Not-so Sweet Home Alabama: How Licensing Holds Back the Yellowhammer State
COVID-19 and our response have caused economic disruption, forcing businesses to close and millions to become unemployed. Although we have seen some recovery, the number of people currently unemployed remains elevated. Given the state of our economy, policymakers should consider relaxing or removing any unnecessary regulations—licensing included. The significant growth in occupational licensing occurring over this 20-year period has no doubt created a stumbling block for entrepreneurs. Licensing was added for professions like athletic trainers, manicurists, and massage therapists. In the imminent economic recovery after COVID-19 subsides, occupational licensing laws will make it more difficult for aspiring entrepreneurs, and may discourage them from entering these trades and opening new small businesses. The unemployment rate does not tell the full story of workers that find themselves discouraged and desperate and drop out of the labor force or potential businesses that fail to open.